Favorite TV Shows

I’ve written about one of my favorite shows (Queen’s Gambit), so I thought I would mention a few others. These are the shows (NOT movies) that I have watched and (in most cases) rewatched and find to be the most enjoyable shows for me.

Please note that I am NOT saying these are the best or the most important. These are merely the ones I have enjoyed watching.

Early Life

Let’s start with the ones I grew up with. I did not watch very many shows on TV. I’d watch the sitcoms of the day (Gilligan’s Island, Brady Bunch, etc.) but I can only think of two shows that I would go out of my way to watch as a young boy and early teen. There were plenty that I would watch occasionally, but only two that I made an effort to watch all the time.

Star Trek

Star Trek (the original series of course) was the first television show that completely captivated me, making me want to watch it every time it came on. Given that it was already a regular rerun show when I was a boy, I got to see every episode, most of them multiple times, growing up. It had an incredible impact on me. Probably the only thing that I encountered that affected me as deeply was reading the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

Watching it as a boy was great. Things like CGI were so far in the future that the special effects (which in hindsight were TERRIBLE) didn’t matter. The glaring plot problems (who would send the captain of the ship out to explore dangerous unknown situations), substandard acting (Shatner???), sexism, and so many other issues contribute to make it not a very good show. As a result, it’s the one show on here that I simply cannot rewatch.

But I also can’t forget about it, because for a young boy, it was fantastic and formative. I loved the characters. Bones, Scotty, and even Kirk were great but Spock was my boyhood hero. I actually wanted to be like him quite a lot. To be honest, I still look back fondly on Bones and Scotty (and I still find Spock just as interesting and compelling as ever). Even Kirk can be largely forgiven because he was in some sense the glue that held it all together. Most of his weaknesses were a product of the era (except for the fact that he couldn’t act of course).

So, even though I will never rewatch this series, I still look back on the episodes as seen through my much-younger eyes with pleasant nostalgia.


I was slightly older when I started watching MASH, but it quickly became an important show to me.

I really fell in love with the characters, even the ones that were designed to be annoying, and the characters improved over time. The first few seasons were largely made up of stereotypes, but by the time they replaced Burns, Trapper, and Blake with Winchester, BJ, and Potter (all of which we great replacements), the characters were fully fleshed-out individuals with many dimensions.

MASH is one of those shows that effectively mixes very real (and serious) life situations with a lot of humor. Especially in the later seasons, it handled life and death with a level of care that elevated the show
well above that of a simple sitcom.

I still rewatch MASH. Most weeks I’ll catch at least one episode. I suspect I’ll never stop watching it. It went downhill a little with the departure of Radar, who I feel added an element that was missing when he left (and Klinger, who had his own extremely interesting personality, was never a replacement for Radar).

There were other shows that I watch growing up, but these were the only two that I made a point of watching.

Recently Watched Sitcoms

Recently, I’ve watched more shows, catching up on some that I didn’t see earlier. All of the streaming services have really made this possibel, so I’ve gotten to catch up with a number of older shows as well as some of the newer shows. I’m still not a heavy watcher, but at any given time, my wife and I typically have a show that we’re watching. To start with, here are a few older shows (i.e. from 10 or more years ago) that I’ve picked up due to streaming and really enjoyed.


Frasier is a show that my wife liked growing up, and she started rewatching it. I had never seen it to the best of my recollection, but I would catch little bits here and there as she was watching it, and really started enjoying the characters, particularly Daphne and Niles.

So, she agreed to start over at the beginning and we watched it together. It’s difficult to pinpoint why this series resonated so well with me. Both Frasier and Niles are people that I would really not want to spend a lot of time with in real life, but I still thoroughly enjoyed their interactions, especially with “normal” people like Daphne, Martin, and Roz.

There are a couple of things that I don’t like too much. I don’t like how often Frasier and Niles put down Roz, especially for dating so many men, when they were every bit as bad with the women. I don’t like how deceptive Frasier was in an effort to go out with practically every girl he dated on the show. Both of these behaviors fit in perfectly well with their characters, so these didn’t serve to make the show unwatchable by any means, but I would still have like to see those areas played down a little.

On the other hand, when either of them break down and show their human sides, it justifies the time we spend with them. And, since we always have Daphne, Roz, and Martin to keep us grounded in reality (with their own quirks which are loveable and watchable at the same time), there are definitely a lot of people to connect with.

So, though I won’t rewatch this one as often as some of the others, it’s still a show that will stay in my library.

One additional note. We started watching the new Frasier, and we didn’t care for it. It’s not terrible, but it’s missing so much. We watched a few episodes, and we both agree that we’re just going to ignore it.

Big Bang Theory

This is the show that I’m currently watching with my wife, so it’s the one show that I have not yet seen to completion. However, it’s also probably #2 on this list (I’m saving #1 for last).

My formal education is in science and math, so I have a very soft spot for science-based humor, scientists and mathmaticians as characters, and the challenges of them interacting with non-scientists. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that no show has done it better than Bang!

With the exception of my #1 show, this is the show where I have become the most invested in the characters. They are not just funny, but they are funny in a way that I can relate to. Sometimes they are annoying (to the point where I wouldn’t care to be their roommates), but I can still understand them and cheer for them.

The character I most relate to is Sheldon. I understand his inability to relate to people, and I sometimes feel the same way. But my favorite characters are Penny and Leonard who are the first to really explore how a scientist and a non-scientist relate to each other.

I’ve read some of the negative criticisms of the later seasons of Bang, especially related to the additions of Bernadette and Amy, but to be honest, I find that both of them add significantly to the show. Bernadette actually goes a long way to removing one aspect of the show I didn’t care for: namely Howard’s extremely crude interactions with girls. It was supposed to be humorous, but I mainly found it to be obnoxious. None of the four original guys were able to relate well to women, but Howard’s actions were the most objectionable. Bernadette actually managed to rein that behavior in making Howard a far less unlikable character.

And Amy is making huge strides in bringing out a more human side of Sheldon. So I’m looking forward to her role in the last couple seasons.

All in all, Bang is a series that I know I will be rewatching periodically. I love the humor in it more than any other show I’ve ever watched (including my #1 show).

Jury Duty

Jury Duty is a show that I suspect fewer people have heard of. And so, I do not want to ruin things by adding a lot of spoilers, but because of it’s format, spoilers actually don’t harm the show a lot. We are told what the show is about from the very start, and it’s an easy step to figure out how it will end. The enjoyment comes, not from the story, but from watching the people traverse the story. It’s definitely worth checking out, especially if you like mockumentary format comedies.

Jury Duty is based on a simple premise (and from the research that I’ve done, it appears to have played out in exactly the way described). The situation presented is that there is a civil case that is going to trial by jury, and it has been decided that a documentary will be filmed showing the entire judicial process from the eyes of the jurors, starting with the jury selection, and ending with the final verdict in the case.

The story is told largely through the eyes of Ronald, one of the jurors in the case. He understands that everything is being filmed, the jurors will be interviewed throughout the entire process, and that the documentary will show how the jurors interact with each other, with the judge and other court officials, etc.

In reality, Ronald is the ONLY one who is under that impression that a documentary is being filmed. Every other person including the judge, the lawyers, the defendant, the witnesses, and all of the other jurors are actors. In other words, it’s a real-life Truman Show playing out in a courtroom, and Ronald is Truman; the only one who thinks that they are trying an actual case. So, the series is presented in a semi-documentary fashion, in the mold of many of the best mockumentaries.

Over the course of the trial, Ronald gets dragged into various personal and case related situations (for example, a juror sitting next to Ronald keeps falling asleep and another juror is worried his girlfriend is cheating on him) and has to navigate all of this, while doing his duty as a juror.

Because it is filmed in a documentary style, the style of the show is unlike what you normally see. But the show succeeds, perhaps even more than it deserved, due to the strengths of everyone involved.

The actors do extremely well at improvisation. Although they know many of the events and issues that are going to arise (since they are in the script), they can’t know exactly how Ronald will react to those situations, so they have to be ready to improvise based on Ronald’s reactions. All of the actors do this very well.

Perhaps the primary strength of the show is that Ronald turns out to be an extremely likable person; the type of person everyone wants as their friend. So although the situations are manufactured, the interactions have a genuine feel that serve to make spending time with the jurors very enjoyable. It’s filled with humor, but never over the top.

I consider Jury Duty to be one of the most unique shows I’ve ever seen, and well worth a watch, and a rewatch. Although I have only watched it once so far, I suspect that a rewatch will not lose even a small bit of it’s entertainment value because it’s never a secret what is going on, and there are no twists at all, other than the inevitable reveal “it’s all fake” that will obviously occur in the final episode. The last episode actually turns out to be the strongest of the series, in my opinion. Go watch it.

Shows That Didn’t Work For Me

I should probably mention two shows that, by all laws, I should enjoy, but I have never truly connected too.

I feel that Seinfeld should have been a show that I would like. I’ve seen a large number of episodes because, like Frasier, it’s a favorite of my wife. Each time I see an episode, I really like the structure, and much of the humor. But, though I like the feel of the show, I never come away from it feeling like I want to watch another episode. I believe that it’s due to the large number of character that I actively dislike. George and Kramer top this list, but even Seinfeld and Elaine are not my favorite people. As a result, I have never come away from an episode feeling like I want to spend more time with them.

Another show that was highly recommended to me was Parks and Recreation. It too is a show that I like the setting and the structure of the show, but never cared much for the characters. The main character Leslie was especially unlikable to me, to the extent that I didn’t even finish the first season.

Newer Non-Sitcom Shows

Recently, I’ve been watching a number of non-sitcom shows. Although these are shows I’m less likely to rewatch, I still want to mention some of the best ones.

Queen’s Gambit

Since I’ve written an entire post about this show, I’m not going to rehash it here.

It’s perhaps my favorite non-comedy shows, and probably the one I’m most likely to rewatch, primarily due to the strength of the characters. Read my Queen’s Gambit post for more thoughts.


Atypical is a wonderful series centering around a family of four with the son (Sam) being on the autism spectrum.

Even though the autism was the dominant theme, all four of the family members played out extraordinarily well. This is another non-comedy series. There were quite a few moments of humor, especially with respect to Sam dealing with non-spectrum people, but the humor was definitely toned-down in order to be respectful of Sam’s situation. Sam’s story of how he was preparing to leave the relatively safe environment of his home and enter the real world was done extremely well. His mother Elsa, who’s life had revolved around caring for Sam (often at the expense of her husband or daughter), was excellent as someone who was losing what had been her primary focus for so long, and was being forced to become someone new. I really loved Casey, Sam’s sister. Her story of trying to both be a protector of her brother while at the same time being her own person was extremely moving. And Sam’s father Doug is also great, having to deal with his own issues and navigate the upheaval created by both Elsa and Casey.

Atypical is not a show I’ll rewatch a lot, but it’s worth a first watch at the very least.


Dark is, hands down, the greatest time-travel show ever made. If you like time-travel, this is an absolutely must-see show. But… be warned… this is a hard show to watch (not hard as in uncomfortable, but hard as in a challenge to keep track of everything you need to).

Imagine 4 different families, intertwined by marriages (and affairs), with multiple (two to four) generations representing people alive in three different time periods (1953, 1986, and 2019). The individuals are played by different people, depending on which period you are seeing, though this is complicated by people going back and forth in time (so younger selves and older selves may be present at any given time, etc.).

These relationships (many of which are unclear) play a significant role on some major events (that I will not comment on here), so you have to figure them out in order to understand the show.

This is the first show I’ve ever watched where I took notes to try to figure out who everyone was, and what was going on.

It’s extremely complex (and becomes even more complex in season 2 and off-the-charts complex in season 3). I don’t want to spoil anything, because this is a show to go into knowing nothing about it, but don’t expect to watch it casually. This one takes work! It’s worth it though.

Stranger Things

I have to mention Stranger Things too, though that is primarily due to the strength of the first seasons. I’m still waiting on the final season to see what I’ll feel about the overall show.

The first season is one of the most memorable science-fiction shows of all time. The characters are amazing, and there isn’t a weak performance in sight.

The problem is that the story keeps growing. Each new season adds new characters which primarily serves to dilute things. Season 1 was tightly focused on a small set of characters. That’s no longer the case. And despite many of the characters being genuinely interesting, the loss of focus is harming the overall story.

The biggest damage has been expanding the scope of the story. Initially, the problem was due to a single lab experimenting with things they should have left alone, but later seasons add in a Russian involvement which is serving to make the story too large to fit in the time that is allotted.

I’m cautiously looking forward to the 5th (and purportedly final) season. I’m hoping it will end strong, justifying keeping the show in my list of favorites, but I’m afraid it won’t and will instead knock it off the list.


One final show to mention is that my wife and I have really enjoyed watching Alone. This is the only reality TV show that I’ve ever really been hooked on.

The premise is that you drop 10 or so people into a remote inhospitable area and they try to survive longer than the others. Whoever lasts the longest wins.

This really plays well into our love of being outdoors and being able to manage on our own.

It’s obviously not for everyone, but we really enjoy it.

Other Shows

We also watched the full set of Madame Secretary seasons. I liked it, but expect never to watch it again. Elizabeth McCord was extremely interesting (and I loved Nadine as well), but Henry McCord was so unlikable (in both my opinion and my wife’s) that he sort of spoiled it. Also, Madame Secretary doesn’t have much humor (it’s definitely a serious show rather than a sitcom) which, for me at least, reduces it’s rewatchability.

My Favorite

This leads me to my favorite show of all time: The Good Place. I’ve never seen a show that I enjoyed as much as this one. I was totally hooked on it before the first episode was over. It’s a short show… only 4 seasons long, which turns out to be perfect, and yet far too short, both at the same time. I would have loved to spend a dozen seasons with these characters, but Michael Schur (the creator) had a story to tell, and he told it as close to flawlessly as I’ve ever seen, and then he stopped, rather than dragging it out.

I’m going to try to make my comments spoiler free in case you haven’t seen the show, because in this case, it is very desirable to watch it the first time spoiler-free. If you haven’t seen this, I recommend that you do. It’s incredibly entertaining, intelligent, and thought provoking. The humor is spot on, and presents the most interesting setting I’ve ever seen in a sitcom. But don’t go out and read about it. If you’re unfamiliar with it, watch it that way and get the full ‘virgin’ experience. I didn’t know how it turns out, and I got a lot of enjoyment out of the twists and turns (there are several).

The premise starts pretty simple. Four individuals: Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason (aka Jianyu) have passed away and have been sent to the Good Place (as opposed to the Bad Place) as a reward for their acts in life. Their neighborhood is run by an architect (Michael) and his assistant (Janet) who’s job is to make sure that they enjoy their afterlife.

The only problem is that this is Michael’s very first assignment, and he may have made a mistake or two and it’s possible that Eleanor was incorrectly assigned to the Good Place.

I’ve never seen a show with a more likable set of leads. Eleanor, Chidi, Michael, and Janet are absolutely amazing. Tahani and Jason are great in their roles. Their stories are not as compelling as the other four, but they are still too important to be considered supporting roles.

The series addresses some very interesting philosophical ideas (as a matter of fact, it sometimes feels like you’re attending a highly entertaining philosophy class). This is largely centered around Chidi, who was a professor of Moral Philosophy on earth. The show addresses questions of right and wrong, good and evil, in a fascinating way, and at a depth which you would never suspect that a sitcom could do. It makes you really consider moral questions, while being solidly built on a humorous foundation, which means that the questions never become boring.

Side note: one of the best episodes was when they address the famous trolley problem!

The Good Place is one of the best at telling a story arc and then switching things up before that are can get too old. Significant changes in the story occur at several times during the show. For example, season 1 represents one story arc, which ends in a significant twist to start season 2. Season 2 is broken up into two distinct story arcs. Likewise, seasons 3 and 4 each have two significant story arcs. None of the arcs drag on too long. As a matter of fact, I would have like some of the arcs to go longer, if for no other reason than to be able to spend more time with such an enjoyable story.

I like the show so much I may write a separate post where I can actually discuss some of the twists and turns of the show… but that’ll be for later. If you haven’t watched The Good Place… do it!

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